Children and history- surely, that’s all about asking an old person what school was like in their time (“Mummy, what was school like in the olden days?”)? Do they learn off reams of dates any more? Maybe they just dress up and colour in Viking shields? Then there’s “but, why did the army have guns on the street in Omagh when you were little? Were they real guns?”. There’s so much mystery when your world view is limited in years.
Apart from “my granny did…”, museum trips, glimpses of documentaries, and school projects, our little folk get their historical knowledge from the multimedia phenomenon that is Horrible Histories. Books, stage show, website and the all conquering television programme entertain and educate. The girls enjoy the mix of cartoon and actors and recognise how a variety of familiar television formats are used, like those of ‘X factor’ or ‘Dragons’ Den’. We all know some of the catchy songs, and the junior members of the household can perform the disco moves that go along with the Aztecs priest song, ‘Ain’t Staying Alive’.
In September we went to see The Awful Egyptians stage show. Songs, drama (a main plot rather than the sketch format of the TV show), blood, guts, gore, humour. All good stuff.
Until the start of the second act, when we got 3D glasses. Snakes, urns, flying pyramid bricks, body parts; all appeared in front of our very eyes. Children squealed and grown ups ducked to avoid the masonry. Ramesses peacocked about the stage while his statue appeared to fall in pieces on my lap. While that was happening, poetry was recited. Theatre indeed.
It was scary, fabulous, really good fun, well worth seeing. History can make for a great night out.
Although, since it was about the Egyptians, I didn’t get to sing along to my favourite of their songs …